How 'Safety Blitzes' Help Test Bus Operators for Compliance

Posted on August 13, 2014 by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

This month, in our continuing coverage of bus operator training tips, we will cover the topic of safety blitzes.

What exactly is a safety blitz?

Think of a safety blitz as seeking confirmation that bus operators are in compliance, or non-compliant, with your standard operating procedures during an unannounced "spot check" of a specific skill set. A blitz may also be initiated in response to a sudden spike in unsafe actions being reported, observed or indicated by video review.

Why a safety blitz?

The goal is to gain an accurate account of what’s going on in your system.

There are several reasons you might want to consider initiating a “blitz.” Let's take a quick look:

  • Customer complaints regarding operator’s use of cell phone while operating their bus.
  • Operators have been observed using one hand to steer the bus.
  • Operators failing to utilize their directional signals when entering a bus stop.
  • Operators accelerating to cross intersection during yellow and red signal conditions.
  • To establish that an "unannounced randomly selected" blitz can occur at any given time.
  • To ensure that any unsafe act will not go unnoticed by management. 
  • To acknowledge and recognize those operators that continue to demonstrate safe consistent operation of their bus on a daily basis.

How can a safety blitz be implemented?

  • Select the skill set to be observed for compliance.
  • Identify the locations to position personnel to gather your information.
  • Set a start and finish time.
  • Agree on what verbal corrective action/remedy will be utilized for operators found to be non-compliant.
  • Schedule a follow up blitz
  • Provide incentives for compliant operators

When should it be conducted?

  • Randomly, to see whether compliance is the standard operating procedure.
  • During the probationary period of an operator in addition to onboard observation rides.
  • After a spike in a particular collision or complaint.

Who will conduct the blitz?

  • Supervisory-level personnel, preferably training department personnel.
  • In cases where training dept. personnel and safety dept. personnel are on the same page with standard operating procedures — and this should always be the case — it can be a joint training and safety effort.

RELATED: How to know when your trainees are ready to roll

I mentioned incentives for those operators found to be compliant during the "safety blitz." I knew of an agency that would provide patches, pens, lapel pins, hats, etc., to those individuals that were observed doing their jobs to the agency’s standards.

It would work like this: let’s say the blitz focused on the proper use of directionals entering a bus stop. An operator that was observed to be compliant in this particular skill would first be approached by the person conducting the blitz and made aware of his/her good actions. The operator would be given a ticket stub to turn in to supervision at the end of their tour. Upon turning in the stub they would be given the predetermined item selected as a reward during that particular blitz.

This is easy to implement, you can be creative as you want and most importantly unsafe behavior is quickly identified and can be dealt with in a constructive manner that will protect the operator, the agency and your loyal customers.

Louie is the former director of training for the New York City Transit Dept. of Buses Safety & Training Division and 2003 NTI Fellow. Currently, he is sr. consultant/SME in transit training & bus simulation at L-3 D.P. Associates and independent consultant at "Bus Talk" Surface Transit Solutions.

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